The Paths Unwalked (Part II)

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 13, 2014 2 comments

by Nathan Buck

(Go check out last week’s post for the beginning of this story.)

“God, please show me what I should do.” As I sat there listening for direction, it was like someone had come in and sat down next to me and asked, “Is that really what you want to do?” Open ended, no assumptions, just the question. As I started to say, “Yes,” my heart felt a strange freedom and desire to say, “No.” It was almost like I had been taken up on a hillside, shown my options, and suddenly this sport that had been my identity for more than 15 years felt short of where I was called to be. Two years later I would have another local opportunity with skating. My family was in support, I was legitimately excited to explore it, and I as I drove to the ice rink that day I asked God for direction. As I sat at a traffic light just up the street from the rink, I remember having a sense of total peace and even freedom that the answer was “no.”

A few years later as I was in college, God very clearly called me to be a church planter. It was a total 180° change from the Criminal Justice/Prosecuting Attorney career I was moving toward, which is a story on its own. I had to move from central Pennsylvania to Ohio to do my master’s degree work. As I was packing, I came across my PBA (Professional Bowler’s Association) papers. I had my application ready to send in and I had met all requirements to qualify, I just had to send them in. Sitting in my living room, in my early 20’s, I reflected on the 15+ years of intense achievement and success. I realized that what God was calling me to would not have room for me to be on the Pro Tour. In that moment, again, a peace and freedom to step into the next adventure filled my heart and soul. I thanked God for the journey and the lessons, and then tore up my application and placed it in the trash.

So, with all that history, and all those doors open, have there been times I have wondered – what if? Yes. Not in regret, but in curiosity. And each time, I am reminded that I am on the road I should be on. God even gave me chances to help coach a kids’ soccer team, be the director of a learn-to-skate program, and while on sabbatical has given me a season to renew bowling at a high level in my area, with my parents (who are both high caliber bowlers). My family never pressured me into continuing, or raising one sport over another – it was always my choice. And God was just as respectful and open about His invitation.

I greatly enjoyed every day on the ice, the soccer field, and in the bowling alley. I felt alive as I engaged in each sport, and like I was the fullest “me.” What is even more amazing is that when I accepted God’s invitation to walk with him, I felt even freer and even more fully “me.” It was like I was stepping into a design, a journey, a destiny that I had never known was there waiting but suddenly made perfect sense. I no longer see them as “paths untaken.” I see them as part of the journey that got me here.

As I continue, God has unpacked even more adventures, even more sports and hobbies, and even more opportunities. The difference is, I am no longer pursuing an earthly goal or reward. God may provide “rewards” along the way. The attention and pay-off of a gold-medal, a trophy, or recognition mean very little compared to God’s presence, strength, love, and peace. It’s still in me to achieve at a high level, and my intensity has not dwindled – I just have a deeper passion and focus for making a difference that could change someone’s eternity.

Isaiah 43:10-13 has been and will be the cornerstone verses of my journey regardless of the path(s) God leads me on. “You are my witnesses declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me. I am the Lord, and there is no savior beside me. It is I who have revealed and proclaimed that there should be no strange gods among you; so that you are my witnesses declares the Lord. I am God. Even from eternity, I am He, and there is no one who can deliver out of my hand; I act and who can reverse it?”

Thanks for reading a slice of one aspect of my journey. I would like to ask you: How are you doing with your sense of purpose and direction? Are you really fulfilled by what is getting 90%+ of your focus, energy, and attention? Maybe it is fulfilling to some extent; is it the fullness of who you were meant to be?

I challenge you to take some time and reflect on God’s design and calling. I challenge you to ask Him what His purpose is for your life and then be willing to let Him show you without rejecting it. It may surprise you what changes and what stays the same. It may surprise you, even more, how God will leverage what you have learned so far, for His journey that is ahead of you.


Charlie said...

I am reminded of Steve Lillis who I have had the opportunity to meet and partner with. He was a professional pool player who did the sport for his own glory until God got a hold of him. He laid it down and never picked up a pool stick again for over a decade. But then God called him back to it, not as a competitor but as a "pool preacher". Now he performs trick shots all over the world using his skills as a means to preach the Gospel. If you get a chance, check out his testimony here.

nathan buck said...

Cool thanks Charlie.